Cierra Linka

Cierra Linka


Unbridled love, unseen potential: lessons from the barn

It was at the barn that Linka encountered Peppy, the horse that would show her how social work exists in all shapes and sizes. Peppy, a horse at Holston United Methodist Home for Children, was sometimes dismissed because of his slow, easygoing manner. Linka quickly learned, however, that Peppy had more pep in his step than most people realized.

One day, Linka and a fellow staff member decided to race up a hill on horseback. Peppy — a rather unlikely racehorse — galloped to first place with ease, surprising Linka and reminding her that people, like horses, can do remarkable things when they feel loved, accepted, and supported. Love is our most powerful tool for finding and fostering unseen potential.

Based on her adventures, Linka wrote a book dedicated to the students who volunteer at the barn. She continues to share her story with children throughout the region and, with the support of many generous donors, distributes free copies of her book. She will share what horses can teach us about human flourishing and how her personal motto of “Love Does” gave her the courage to take a leap of faith and share the Peppy story.

CIERRA LINKA has a passion for helping people flourish and reach their fullest potential.

That passion led Linka to major in social work at East Tennessee State University, where she is a junior and a Roan Scholar. She is the fundraising chair of the ETSU Student Social Work Association, serves as a Student Government Senator for the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, and mentors high school students as a Young Life Leader at David Crockett High School. This summer she interned at Families Free, a nonprofit that offers alcohol and drug treatment, parenting classes and individual case management.

An experience in the summer of 2018 sent Linka down a new path of adventure and revealed new potential in herself. That summer she completed her Roan Summer of Service at Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville, Tenn. She was an adventure-based counselor and equine specialist, co-directing the horse program. She worked at the barn training students how to properly groom, saddle and ride the horses. Her internship at Holston Home ultimately inspired her to write a children’s book titled “Peppy: The Easy-Going Racehorse.”